It's December 25th - Christmas Day! Merry Christmas everyone. May the joy of our Lord's arrival overflow into your hearts and homes today and always.
Since it's Christmas day I feel this post title is fitting. It's a post long overdue actually. It's partly inspired by an eye opening audible book I read during the summer - Present Over Perfect - by Shauna Niequist. The added bonus was her voice - it sounded pretty darn honest and vulnerable - I'm just saying.
Present Over Perfect was all about the gift of presence. Being present in this journey that is life. So present that if joy and pain had a flavor you could taste it. Being present is about (as Shauna eloquently puts it) showing up in the stillness. Life is a gift. How do we show it our love and respect? By showing up in the stillness. Offer grace and nourishment to yourself. These gifts of grace, nourishment, and hospitality cannot be bought. That brings us back to the post title - Presence or Presents?
This is a welcomed discussion, especially this season of Christmas when the unfortunate tradition is beating sales, spending all day in long lines at the register, fighting traffic with all the other mall shoppers, and of course the mother of all unfortunate Christmas traditions - spending above your budget. I have been trapped in this tradition at one time or the other so I know what it feels like. It can be anxiety ridden and a thief of joy. Definitely distracting me from offering grace and nourishment to myself. Just this past Saturday evening I decided to stop at TJ Maxx for some inspiration. Maybe I could find something inspiring, especially since I've stayed away from the stores and mall most of Advent season. I had a few random items in my cart when I looked up and saw the line wrapped around the store. I did not see the value in the items in my cart anymore. All I saw was a very long wait in a very long line. I made a choice. I left. I drove home, lit up all the candles in my home, lit up the Christmas tree, the fireplace, and paid attention to the smells and sights around me
Overtime, I've noticed the gift of present moments is more my vibe.
Moments like watching my children ice skate and them taking the time to watch me try - and fail - as well.
Moments like laughing out loud at the movies and making comments. Ok, to be honest, me and my oldest are the notorious commentators. We plan on stopping - never.
Moments like walking on the beach with my girls and quietly focused on looking for unique shells. That's all.
Moments like early in the morning when my daughter sits on the side of my bed for 5 mins in silence or a few words before she leaves for school. Grace and nourishment.
Oh, and gatherings. I love hosting gatherings. To be able to connect in real life - not Instalife. To be able to nourish others and yourself with good food, honest conversations, and laughter is sacred and spiritually fulfilling. Our presence is a present. It's easy to get lost in the noise and getting carried away with the constant movement and over scheduling that we confuse with productive living. But the stillness; that's were you really need to be brave. To be able to keep yourself open and be vulnerable to the present moment as opposed to fast forwarding to tomorrow.
So, if you can, this Christmas morning and more mornings and days to come, choose to brave the stillness. Don't feel pressured to fill every quiet moment with noise and constant movement. Give yourself and your loved ones the Present of Presence. You do not have to damage your spirit, your body, your relationships for the sake of efficiency. Offer Grace and Nourishment to yourself - and some honey baked ham.